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Adventures in the Villa

2021-06-23 – Heading Home from Springtime in the Rockies caravan… Day 28 – Ely, Nevada

We started out today by leaving the RV Park at 7:50. We headed out to buy fuel. However, the phone app that told us where it was was wrong, so we had to back track. On our way we were stopped by a train crossing.

We sat there for over 20 minutes… While some people might be annoyed while a freight train moved back and forth for 20 minutes, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The train was off-loading cars into a freight yard. It would pull forward, a worker threw a switch, the train backed up a bit, the worker disconnected a car or two, and the train would stop. The loose car(s) would continue to roll onto the siding.

Fascinating!

The train finally pulled away, and we crossed over; we quickly found the truck stop, where we refilled the diesel and the DEF. And we were off!

We traveled south, and then we jogged west at Salt Lake City. The freeways on the 15 and 215 in SLC were some of the worst roads we have seen on this trip, and we have seen MANY bad roads. Finally we came to the shores of the Great Salt Lake.

I’m not sure we ever saw any clear water in the lake – only the salt flats…

We passed this huge plant of some kind. We could not figure why this “smoke stack” was so large, but it was a fascinating thing to see…

There a Mosque, too…

And on we drove. Salt everywhere…

And a salt processing plant…

We stopped to stretch our legs at Delle. Nothing here except a small gas station and a very large gravel parking area with outhouses…

We continued west. Salt…

A we neared the Nevada border we noticed that cars stopped along the road had been driving onto the salt… Weird!

Then it dawned on me…

This is the Bonneville Salt Flats!

The Bonneville Salt Flats are a densely packed salt pan in Tooele County in northwestern Utah. The area is a remnant of the Pleistocene Lake Bonneville and is the largest of many salt flats located west of the Great Salt Lake. The property is public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management and is known for land speed records at the “Bonneville Speedway”. Access to the flats is open to the public.

Motorcar racing has taken place at the salt flats since 1914. Racing takes place at part of the Bonneville Salt Flats known as the Bonneville Speedway. There are five major land speed events that take place at the Bonneville Salt Flats. Bonneville “Speed Week” takes place mid-August followed by “World of Speed” in September and the “World Finals” take place early October.

Just west of the salt flats we went through Wendover, Utah. We crossed the border and entered West Wendover, Nevada…

We stopped… where else? At a casino parking lot…

We enjoyed a nice lunch and a short nap… Then we headed south. The road looked like this for 110 miles!

And then we arrived at the “booming” town of Ely, NV, and we easily found the KOA campground…

We settled in, walked our required 30 minutes, enjoyed Happy Hours and dinner…

An enjoyable time was had by all…

2021-06-22 – Springtime in the Rockies caravan… Day 27 – End of Caravan – Heading Home – Tremonton, Utah

We wanted to beat the traffic entering Yellowstone, so we pulled out at 6:45 am. We headed from the RV Park in Montana, into Wyoming, and through the Roosevelt Arch…

The early morning drive through Yellowstone was beautiful, but, other than the elk that was standing in the Roosevelt Arch, which delayed our drive for a few minutes, we saw no wildlife…

That isn’t to say that there was no excitement today… Back in Burbank our two older grandchildren boarded the big yellow school bus for the first time… They are heading to Beach Camp! We expect them to return tired, sandy, and sunburned (just a little…).

So we continued through the park. Believe it or not, this is the fastest route from Gardiner, MT to California…

We came upon some geothermal activity. This was bigger than any similar sulfur-smelling steam venting we had seen in all our time here…

But we continued on, traveling south, then heading west, exiting the park at the west entrance…

It took about one hour to travel the park. As we left we saw the lines of cars trying to get into the park. This line of traffic is still 3-4 miles from the park entrance…

So we passed on out of Wyoming, back into Montana, and on through to Idaho.

Somewhere in Idaho we stopped to stretch our legs and eat a snack. We pulled off an anonymous offramp and parked between the Potato Growers of Idaho Association and a FedEx Distribution center…

Back on the freeway we continued south…

We ate lunch at a nice rest stop somewhere in southern Idaho…

We passed over into Utah, and on the Tremonton, where we found a very nice RV Resort…

Aspen Grove RV Resort, Tremonton, Utah. Large sites, concrete pads, full hook-ups. Come back in 5 years – they have planted a tree at each site – in five years we won’t be able to use our satellite TV…

There was another Airstream in the park – pulled by a Porsche Cayenne… We had an interesting chat about tow-vehicles, hithes, and Airstreams in general…

Another interesting feature of the RV Park is that several sites have Electric Vehicle charging stations…!

For our 47th wedding anniversary dinner we selected the finest restaurant in Tremonton… It is a diner at the bowling alley…

We tried to have a toast, but this being Utah, there was no wine…

After a fairly unremarkable dinner we returned to the Villa…

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2021-06-21 – Springtime in the Rockies caravan… Day 26 – Yellowstone National Park and Farewell Luncheon

Today is the last full day of the Caravan. We head for home tomorrow…

We had a quiet morning, with a rare breakfast of bacon and eggs… We headed for the Final Banquet (lunch) at 10:30 – if you show up on time you are late!

We walked about the town of Gardiner. By the way, the town is named after a 19th century fur-trapper named Johnson Gardner. Oh! The Ironing!

We walked over to the original entrance to Yellowstone, the Roosevelt Arch…

We also found out we were in the Gallatin Custer National Forest… Lots of Federally owned land around here…

From the town we could see the Airstreams parked in the adjacent RV Park. (Due to a variety of mix-ups, the Villa is parked at another RV Park seven miles out of town…

We like watching rivers. Here the Yellowstone River flows right through the town… and it continues down past our RV Park…

The Yellowstone River is a tributary of the Missouri River, approximately 692 miles long. It drains an area stretching from the Rocky Mountains in the vicinity of Yellowstone National Park, across the mountains and high plains of southern Montana and northern Wyoming. It eventually joins the Missouri and then the Mississippi Rivers.

We also saw a lot of the Snake River, in Yellowstone as well as in Grand Tetons NP. At 1,078 miles long, it is the largest tributary of the Columbia River, in turn the largest North American river that empties into the Pacific Ocean. The Snake River rises in western Wyoming, then flows through the Snake River Plain of southern Idaho, the rugged Hells Canyon on the Oregon–Idaho border and the rolling Palouse Hills of Washington, emptying into the Columbia River at the Tri-Cities, Washington.

So the Yellowstone River is on the east side of the Continental Divide, and the Snake River is on the west side… And they are both here in Yellowstone…!

We returned to the Cowboy, on their upper open-air deck. Caravans don’t usually repeat locations like this, but the restaurant that was planned for the final Banquet burned down last winter…

We all gathered for a social time together…

Lunch was served. This time it was baked Montana trout. (I would have preferred the fried chicken that we had last time…)

After lunch we had presentations, accolades, and door prizes…

That evening we all gathered for Happy Hours…

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2021-06-20 – Springtime in the Rockies caravan… Day 25 – Yellowstone National Park

We are going on another tour with Yellowstone Forever…

Our first stop is at Swan Lake…

We found: Swans! Trumpeter Swans to be exact…

We moved on to the Canyon Visitor Center, a newer center, and a newer Lodge.

I had read earlier in the week about a new pilot demonstration project which runs self-driving (autonomous) shuttle buses through the park. And here it is!

There are currently eight busses operating among three or four visitor centers. The idea is to shuttle visitors easily and cleanly around the park. The base structure of the vehicles are 3-D printed! These look really neat! They offered me a ride, but I had to get back to our Transit van to continue our tour…

Our next stop is to the “Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River”. These are the upper falls…

In addition to the Yellowstone River, we can see a Fumarole here on the canyon wall…

We had a short walk to the Lily Pond… There were great views along the way…

Some of us are braver than others when it comes to peering over the rim of the canyon…

Here is the Lily Pond. You can’t really see the water because it is covered in grass and Lily Pads…

More wildlife…

The hike to Lily Pond complete, we traveled to Uncle Tom’s Point…

These are the lower falls…

After Uncle Tom’s Point we drove to our next hike at Storm Point. Along the way we found more Bison…

We stopped at the “Fishing Bridge”, so named because there is no fishing allowed within one mile of this bridge. It is mainly used for watching Cutthroat Trout spawning. No action today…

Cutthroat Trout are an endangered species due to Lake Trout and Rainbow Trout; they are invasive species, and they eat the Cutthroat Trout. The population of Cutthroat Trout is 10% of their historic high. Grizzly Bears, Otters, and Bald Eagles depend on the Cutthroat Trout as a staple in their diet…

More Bison…

We begin our hike on the Storm Point Trail……

We finally see Yellowstone Lake in all its glory…

Yellowstone Lake is the largest body of water in Yellowstone National Park. The lake is 7,732 feet above sea level and covers 136 square miles with 110 miles of shoreline. While the average depth of the lake is 139 ft, its greatest depth is at least 394 ft (120 m). Yellowstone Lake is the largest freshwater lake above 7,000 ft in North America. In winter, ice nearly 3 ft thick covers much of the lake except where shallow water covers hot springs. The lake freezes over by early December and can remain frozen until late May or early June.

We had a bit of a challenge when felled treed crossed our path… Some go over, some go under…

We stopped to eat the lunches we brought along…

Here we see a Marmot. Maybe a Golden Marmot, or maybe a Long-Tailed Marmot, or a Red Marmot. You decide… (It’s really just a large squirrel…)

Various ducks and geese along the way…

Another bison…

And another. They really are all over the place… Elk, too…

We returned to our van. As we left the parking lot it started to rain. Perfect timing! We returned to the campground. The rain had stopped, so we enjoyed some time at the hot springs.

We had dinner in the Villa…

An enjoyable time was had by all…

2021-06-19 – Springtime in the Rockies caravan… Day 24 – Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Free Day today. We love these on these caravans…

Our daughter, Erin, is camping at San Clemente for a few days. Her kids always like back-pack rides… This is Evelyn, proving you’re never too old…

Today we slept late, leisurely drank coffee, and walked around the RV park. I caught up on these blogs because I finally have internet access…

We discovered n interesting piece of history about the town of Gardiner…

Gardiner is a census-designated place (CDP) in Park County, Montana, so it’s not even a real city. The population was 875 at the time of the 2010 census. Today it is about the same in the winter…

Gardiner was officially founded in 1880, but the area has served as a main entrance to Yellowstone National Park since its creation in 1872. Yellowstone National Park Heritage and Research Center, which opened May 18, 2005, is located in Gardiner and houses National Park Service archives, Yellowstone museum collections and reference libraries.

The name Gardiner derives from Johnson Gardner, an illiterate fur trapper who operated in the area in 1830-31. He named the lush headwaters valley of today’s Gardner River Gardner’s Hole. Originally, named Gardner’s Fork, the river took on Gardner’s name although prospectors and explorers who visited the area later in the century were unaware of the trapper Johnson Gardner. In 1870, when the Washburn-Langford-Doane Expedition passed through the area they began calling the river Gardiner, a phonetic error. Hiram M. Chittenden (1895) and Nathaniel P. Langford (1905) confirmed this spelling in their accounts of the expedition.

When the Hayden Geological Survey of 1871 passed through the Gardiner area, they encountered two men, named J.C. McCartney and H. R. Horr, who had laid claim to 320 acres and established a ranch and bath house on the Mammoth terraces near Liberty Cap. These entrepreneurs eventually established a primitive hotel at Mammoth and were not evicted from the area until many years after the park was established. McCartney also went by the name Jim Gardiner and received messages, consignments and such destined for guests of his hotel addressed to: Jim on the Gardiner. On February 9, 1880, a territorial post office was established just outside the park boundary and Gardiner, Montana began.

I caught a view of the parked Airstreams…

Lynda found an Elk resting in the shade here in the RV park…

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We explored more areas of the park…

About 4:30 we joined Airstream neighbors for Happy Hours.

We returned to the Villa for dinner. An enjoyable time was had by all…

2021-06-18 – Springtime in the Rockies caravan… Day 23 – Yellowstone National Park

We had set the alarm for 4:30 am to be ready to board a small bus at 5:45 am. We are going into Yellowstone today to look for wildlife…

We gathered with the other Airstreamers. There are four buses coming to pick us up to see various parts of the park and to lead us on hikes, keyed to various activity levels.

Our tour today is from Yellowstone Forever, a non-profit subsidiary of Yellowstone National Park. All profits go back to the park, funding various projects, such as the reintroduction of wolves, bison conservation and transfer to prevent overpopulation, fish conservation, the cougar project, and others. Our driver/guide is Mike. The tour was very entertaining, interesting, and comfortable…

Our van arrived and we clamored aboard… There are 11 of us in our Transit van… We left about 6:15 am.

We weren’t in the park for 5 minutes when we spotted a black bear about 300 yards away…

Shortly after that we saw a small herd of Bison…

They decided to cross the road… A classic Yellowstone “Bison-Jam”…

Once they were all safely across we continued on our way…

While we were traveling through the park to our first viewing site our driver told us an interesting story…

In 1870, an accountant named Truman Everts, from Burlington, Vermont, decided on a whim to join an expedition led by Henry D. Washburn and Nathaniel P. Langford into the still largely unexplored wilderness that would later become Yellowstone National Park. This was the second official survey of the Yellowstone region in less than two years.

After falling behind the rest of the expedition on September 9, 1870, Everts managed to lose the pack horse which was carrying most of his supplies. Without food or equipment, he attempted to retrace the expedition’s route along the southern shore of Yellowstone Lake in the hopes of finding his companions. He ate a songbird and minnows raw, and a local thistle plant to stay alive; the plant (Cirsium foliosum, commonly known as elk thistle) was later renamed “Evert’s Thistle” after him. As well as the lack of food, Everts faced the coming autumn weather, including early snowstorms, and at one point was stalked by a mountain lion.

Everts’ party searched for him for more than a week, setting signal fires, firing guns into the air, and leaving notes and caches of supplies for Everts along the lake. Though a site near the lake had earlier been designated as a meeting point in case one of the party members became lost, Everts, for unknown reasons, never showed up. The expedition returned to Fort Ellis by early October. Believing him dead, his friends in Helena, MT, offered a reward of $600 to find his remains.

On October 16, more than a month after his separation from the group, two local mountain men – “Yellowstone Jack” Baronett and George A. Pritchett – found Everts, suffering from frostbite, burn wounds from thermal vents and his campfire, and other injuries suffered during his ordeal, so malnourished he weighed only 50 pounds (23 kg). Baronett and Pritchett were part of a search party which had been sent from Montana to find Everts’ remains. They discovered him, mumbling and delirious, more than 50 miles from where he had first become lost.  One man stayed with Everts to nurse him back to health while the other walked 75 miles for help.

Everts’ rescuers brought him to Bozeman, MT, where he recovered. The next year, Everts’ personal account of the experience, “Thirty-Seven Days of Peril”, was published in Scribner’s Monthly.  The story of his survival became national news and contributed a great deal of publicity to the movement to preserve the Yellowstone area as the country’s first national park. In spite of their assistance, Everts denied Baronett and Pritchett payment of the reward, claiming he could have made it out of the mountains on his own.

We finally arrived at our viewing location. Our guide hauled out telescopes so that we can get a better look without getting too close to the wildlife – we are trying to see wolves…

Nothing. We stared into the hill across the way looking for wolves. Some folks saw 3 running across the hill. Lynda thinks she saw one wolf…

But I saw more Bison, and a Pronghorn Antelope…

These Bison decided to cross the river…

Next we started out on our hike. We were met by a horse-drawn wagon. These are used to carry supplies into the back-country where Rangers and other workers live year ’round…

Our hike offered many views…

Off to our right, about 30 yards off the trail, we sighted another Black Bear, this one was cinnamon brown color… Luckily we saw him about 200 yards away. We walked through the sage brush to maintain at least 100 yards of separation…

He wasn’t bothered by us, and he was in no hurry to wander away. We spent a lot of time watching…

As we continued watching the cinnamon bear another hiker came by and told us there was a Grizzly Bear across the valley… So he is out there, somewhere, just to the right of the Bison. But he is about 1 mile away, so he is hard to spot…

We stopped for lunch, eating the sandwiches we had brought along…

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We started hiking back…

We returned to the Villa. We were hot and tired. We enjoyed a soak in the hot springs after dinner…

(The water isn’t really brown… The pool bottom is…)

And an enjoyable time was enjoyed bay all…

2021-06-17 – Springtime in the Rockies caravan… Day 22 – Travelling to Yellowstone National Park

So we bid farewell to the Grand Tetons! It was the prettiest park we have seen on this trip. On to Yellowstone!

We left about 8:00 am to avoid traffic in the park. We’ve been told traffic can be terrible in Yellowstone.

The drive was short – only 112 miles. We drove directly through Grand Teton National Park, through the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway, and on into Yellowstone National Park…

Yellowstone National Park is located in the in the northwest corner of Wyoming, with some areas extending into Montana and Idaho. It was established by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872. Yellowstone was the first national park in the U.S. and is also widely held to be the first national park in the world.  The park is known for its wildlife and its many geothermal features, especially Old Faithful geyser.

We loved the Grand Tetons NP. In comparison, Grand Tetons covers 485 square miles, while Yellowstone covers 3,500 square miles. However, Grand Tetons is much more scenic, while Yellowstone features geothermal natural wonders and much more wildlife…

The views along the road are nice…

We soon stopped to see Old Faithful. First we hassled the very busy and crowded parking area. We only needed to jack-knife the Villa into 6 parking stalls, and we were set!

We entered the Old Faithful Lodge. Interiors were nice…

But the exterior was less than impressive…

We walked out to the viewing area where people were already waiting to see Old Faithful; they will wait another 45 minutes…

We wandered over to the Old Faithful Inn. It is much more impressive…!

The lobby is this giant 3-4 story high space, all done up in National Park architecture…

The dining room is also very grand… Unfortunately, it is closed…

We ignored the sign and walked up the stairs.

Very nice upper level lounge areas…

Near the top is what they call “the Crow’s Nest”. It is a room at the top of these stairs where orchestras would play in the evening. The top is 76′ tall! Unfortunately, in 1959 an earthquake damaged the structural integrity of the Crow’s Nest, so it is no longer habitable.

These writing desks are all over these upper floors… Beautiful!

Unfortunately, there are no dining or lounge areas that are open. Only fast food is available, and only for take-out… Gift shops have such a restricted capacity that there lines hundreds of people long just to get inside. Yellowstone is much more shut down for Covid than Grand Tetons was…

So we moved on to a modern Visitors Center. Again, capacity is restricted… But the views are grand…

We returned to the Old Faithful viewing are. The crowd has tripled…

Old Faithful is a cone geyser. It was named in 1870 during the Washburn–Langford–Doane Expedition and was the first geyser in the park to be named. It is a highly predictable geothermal feature and has erupted every 44 minutes to two hours since 2000.  The geyser and the nearby Old Faithful Inn are part of the Old Faithful Historic District.

So thousands of people are standing around looking at this for the past hour. The next scheduled eruption is due at 11:06 am.

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About ten minutes before the scheduled time the geyser spouts briefly…

Finally, at 11:07 am Old Faithful earns her name…

And it goes on and on…!

Finally the eruptions start to fade…

Eruptions can shoot 3,700 to 8,400 gallons of boiling water to a height of 106 to 185 feet, lasting from 112 to 5 minutes.

We continued to drive north. We found some Bison…

We found some Fumaroles at Roaring Mountain: (Fumaroles are similar to geysers, except that they do not have enough pressure to erupt; they just emit steam…)

We had some fine views

The traffic is bad and the roads are rough, slow, narrow, and curvy…

More green valleys…

We saw this female elk hanging out along the side of the road…

More Pronghorn Antelope… But they are far away…

We continued out of the park and into Gardiner, Montana…

The town of Gardiner is just outside the park; it was the original entrance to the park, and at the time all guests would arrive by train, so there was a large train station here…

Today Gardiner has mostly tour companies, gift shops, lodges, motels, and RV parks. We met with the club for dinner at this recently-constructed dining terrace… (Construction workers were still working when we arrived…)

Airstreamers started arriving (early, as usual)

We enjoyed a very good fried chicken dinner buffet…

After dinner, we returned to the RV park and walked around. We are right next to the Yellowstone River, but only tent sites are adjacent to the river.

The park is dry and dusty, but there is a small grill for dinner and other amenities…

There are extensive hot spring pools…

After checking out the hot spring pools we returned to the Villa. We have an early morning tomorrow.

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2021-06-16 – Springtime in the Rockies caravan… Day 21 – Grand Tetons National Park, Wyoming

We were up early today and were on the road to Jenny Lake by 5:45 am. We will take a shuttle boat across the lake and hike Cascade Canyon.

At this early morning hour the reflections on the lake were perfect!

We started our hike up the canyon…

We came to Cascade Creek, cascading down Cascade Canyon…

We reached Hidden Falls…

The hike got steeper and rockier as we continued up and up…

We finally reached Inspiration Point. Great views, and we were all alone!

This is about the halfway point on our hike… As we continued up the canyon we found a natural dam forming a beautiful lake…

We finally reached the end of our upward hike, at about 2 1/2 miles and 750 feet of elevation gain… You know you have reached the end when you say, “This is the end. Let’s turn back…”

By the time we returned to Inspiration point it was crowded like a discotheque…!

We hiked down and down and down, dodging people coming up all the way…

We returned by boat, and drove back to the Villa. While I napped, Lynda met some new friends just across the street from our site…

These are Mule Deer…

After Lynda woke me up to see the deer I went in search of Internet… She went to the beach…

That evening we went to dinner with friends to the Jackson Lake Lodge… It is a fine old National Park Lodge…

Dinner was wonderful, and it is always nice to share with friends…

We returned to the Villa; an enjoyable time was had by all…

2021-06-15 – Springtime in the Rockies caravan… Day 20 – Grand Tetons National Park, Wyoming

Today we visited the National Museum of Wildlife Art, just outside Jackson…

The museum, as its name suggests, if chock full of wildlife art, including paintings, sculptures, videos, etc. The museum’s best feature, however, is that it has great cellular service; I brought along my laptop and updated a few things in the parking lot before our visit began…

Wildlife art is not something to which I am particularly attracted . However, there was one video display that had three screens. The wall on which the videos were projected is black, and the videos, all of wild animals caught on camera, were shown in black and white, except reversed. It was quite ethereal and captivating… I could have spent much more time watching.

But it’s lunch time. We drove into Jackson and found a great French Bistro…

We dined on Buffalo Steak Tartare, Moules Frites, and Duck Croque Monsieur… And a very nice Vacqueyras wine…

After lunch we walked around Jackson. Crammed with tourists. The central park square has one of these corny antler arches at each corner… tourists swarm to get their pictures taken in front of one of the arches…

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Back at the RV Park, we took a walk out a small peninsula in Jackson Lake adjacent to the Marina…

Back at the Villa we had the sandwiches that were given the first day here, and another nice bottle of wine…

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

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